Similar to neighbouring Bolivia, there aren’t a lot of gluten free labelled food products or speciality gluten free grocery items in Peru, but the basics are easy to get by on. Quinoa is a popular, high nutrition, gluten-free grain that is commonly used in Peru. It is found in cereal, soup and snacks, and can really keep you sustained – just try to check the labels to make sure there aren’t extra unwanted ingredients in packaged food. Use a language card to assist in reading labels, most gluten-containing ingredients are easy to spot, or ask for help from locals that can read Spanish.
Other common gluten free snacks available in Peru are sweet potato chips and nuts, which are good options, especially if doing hikes in the area. Don’t shy away from chocolate bars either, the sugar helps with altitude sickness. In particular, Snickers and Toblerone are easy to find brands that work well as gluten free sweet snacks. Avoid Mars bars, however, as they are not gluten free. There are quite a lot of popular junk food brands here, so you can often find Lay’s brand plain potato chips as well. Eating light, healthy meals is much more recommended at altitude, however, so choose snacks wisely.
The best gluten free breakfast option is eggs, if you can eat them – opt for hardboiled if you are worried about cross-contamination. Otherwise, you will need to get creative with self-catering. For main meals, look for grilled meats and rice which are usually the safest bet. Try to master saying “la plancha” when ordering, which means grilled, rather than fried. Be careful to avoid raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables in Peru however, as they are not always safe to eat.
A good bet for someone who doesn’t speak Spanish is to get a language card which explains your food needs. Here is a link to some free printable language cards that I used in Peru:
Useful Words to Know
Enjoy your time in this amazing country! Peru is beautiful and culturally rich. Please feel free to message me with any new resources and I’ll add them to this list. Safe Travels!